When the Road is Dark
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
This verse roles off the tongue so eloquently, and as of late I recite it almost every day. To believe it, and I mean really believe it, changes everything. Do I actually believe the Lord goes before me and that he will never leave me? Does this apply to all areas of my life – work, relationships, health, hopes and dreams? If it does and I believe it, then what is there to fear in this life and why does anxiety so easily creep in at times?
These are the questions that have incarcerated my thoughts for the past six months, while the Lord has used them as a catalyst to propel me in directions I’ve been hesitant to move toward. I wish I could say it’s been easy, but it’s been a tug of war between the two of us as he has continuously nudged me to fully embrace the gifts he’s given me as a counselor, teacher, and writer.
I’ve been living a life consistently surrendered to God for the past 15 years and I know how he leads me. It’s typically never what I expect, but I’m always able to see his fingerprints on things… and that gives me the strength to move forward. People who know me well can testify to the fact that I am always ruthlessly obedient to whatever it is that God asks of me, but again I need to see those fingerprints. However, this season has been different.
In May of 2016, I wrote a post called “Lighted Highway or Flashlight?” I won’t recap the whole thing, but the point was that I am someone who feels most comfortable and in control when I can clearly see the road I’m on for about 3-5 miles – a lighted highway to my destination. Because of this, the Lord has graciously taught me to release my “illusions of control” by only giving me enough light for my next step – a flashlight glow. And by the way, he is the one holding the flashlight, not me.
I’ve learned to do life with God in this manner the past few years and while it’s been hard, it’s been good. Life is much simpler now that I’ve learned to take it one flashlight step at a time. The problem with these past six months is that it feels like God has now turned the flashlight off and I’ve been wandering around in the dark.
I hate the dark.
In recent months, I sat with my good friend Diana on several occasions to share my frustrations about the darkness. She always asked the best questions and would draw out all kinds of information about the nudges God was giving me towards my calling. Inevitably, almost every time, in her gentle manner she would smile and say, “I can’t wait to see what happens Steph, I can see God’s fingerprints all over this.”
I so wanted to share in her belief of what she was seeing God do, but fear was my constant companion. In hindsight, I will tell you that I could see God’s fingerprints in the nudges as well, but the truth is, I didn’t think that was enough. I wanted a clear, bright, lighted next step, and until I got it, I wasn’t moving.
Sitting there with Diana at our last meeting, I shared again my fears of moving forward, as God's nudges were getting too intense to ignore anymore. I told her I was moving forward, but so desperately wanted some light. Then, through tears, I wondered aloud why the God I love so much wouldn’t shine any light ahead on my next step – especially when I was trying to fulfill his purposes for my life. At that moment Diana’s hand slowly slid across the table and rested on top of mine. “Steph,” she whispered, “I love your stories, but can I tell you one now?”
"My dad grew up on a farm out in the middle of nowhere down a long winding road. He took that road almost every day of his life and knew it like the back of his hand. I remember as a little girl him driving our family out to see my grandparents who still lived on the farm. Sometimes when we were driving out there late at night for a visit, he would turn the lights out on the car and it would scare me to death! It was so dark and we couldn’t see anything. But you know what? Never once did we get hurt, lost, or drive off course. You know why?
Because my father knew the road."
I sat there speechless as God used Diana's story to bring every piece of the puzzle together in my mind. He has not been holding out on me or refusing to give me the flashlight step because I’ve done something wrong or because he’s testing me. No, he's been inviting me deeper into his story and into a level of trust I’ve never been at with him. It seems so simple now and yet I can’t believe I almost missed his invitation.
I’m now moving forward into new endeavors with no flashlight. It’s scary and some days I handle it better than others, but this I know to be absolutely true - it is better to be in the dark with my Savior, than in the light without him... because my Father knows the road.
For Your Reflection…
Why do we always assume the worst of God when life feels dark? What would it take to trust that he has gone before you and that he is with you even in the dark?